Secret Number Four: “Don’t Assume the Prospect Knows What You Mean”

Secret Number Four: “Don’t Assume the Prospect Knows What You Mean”

We observe many firms we work with, whether small or large, taking their message to the market without making the connection for the prospect about why does this matter?

Think about the overload we all experience in our day-to-day interactions. We are bombarded with information—relevant and otherwise. Often times we may “care” about a message but we simply don’t have the mental capacity to focus on it and deal with it. Marketing and selling has become difficult because getting a message to stand out—in a very crowded market—is an increasing challenge. As internet-based targeting has become more sophisticated all of your target buyers are seeing more messages tailored specifically to their function or interests.

Firms that have a product and service to offer with the WIIFM (“what’s in it for me?”) for the end client clearly articulated will always stand out. What does this mean? When a salesperson talks to a prospect, or a marketing person creates materials it is critical to ask the “So What?” question. So you have this great product or service—what does it mean to the people you are hoping to sell it to? Why is this product or service important and what do you expect it will solve for your target client?

Remember that we all buy what we believe will either alleviate a pain we are experiencing or will give us a positive benefit (“I would look great using that cool new cell phone!”) Good marketers know how to paint the picture of how the product will solve a problem or put the person in a better place. Good salespeople need to learn how to take that message, uncover the issues that matter to the prospect and then make the connection for the prospect.

Companies spend a lot of money creating products and services that are, in theory, necessary and meet a need. They don’t spend nearly as much time considering how to talk about what they are offering and why the prospect should care about it. If you take the time to make the connection for the prospect they have to spend less mental energy trying to figure out why and what!

For example, let’s say you’re selling a brand new technology that requires a multi-decision maker process. What happens, typically? The product gets created and beautiful materials promote it with colorful glossy graphs and charts about product features and benefits. However, in working with clients we often find that little time is given to address the “So What?” from each of the decision-makers viewpoint. In this example, the chief technology officer has different concerns than the president, than does the CFO. Most times firms try to capture all relevant information to all parties in one fell swoop—but all of these perspectives are different. What they need to know and why they should care differs depending on what role one plays in the distribution process.

It does require emphasis on messaging that is deeper and more nuanced than the typical “product rollout”. In the typical rollout the new product (in this case the new technology) is promoted without adapting messaging for different audiences. Everyone hears a selling message that’s essentially the same.

What if—when considering rollout—the emphasis was put on “So What?” So why should each person in the selling chain care? If the messaging took into consideration the needs of the audience, and didn’t assume they would automatically know why this matters and why they should care it’s likely that interest in, and adoption of, the product would increase. Again, internet-based marketing today offers the ability to be highly specific in reaching targets based on their functional or personal WIIFMs, so it pays to go the extra mile in answering “So What?”.

It is easier to just churn out product information and materials one-time, for all targets. But that puts a higher level of responsibility on your target to take the time to understand at a deeper level what might matter to me. This process does require more effort on the part of the team creating and delivering the message, but it also increases the chance that what the salesperson is saying will get understood and result in action by that recipient.